Gospel: John 6:1-15
Five loaves, two fish
Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed him because of the miraculous signs they saw when he healed the sick. So he went up into the hills and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
Then lifting up his eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to him and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”
Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there so the people, about five thousand men, sat down to rest. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish and gave them as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten enough, he told his disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.”
So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is with pieces of the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.
When the people saw this sign that Jesus had just given, they said, “This is really the Prophet, he who is to come into the world.” Jesus realized that they would come and take him by force to make him king; so he fled to the hills by himself.
First Reading: 2 Kings 4:42-44
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
Gospel: John 6:1-15
The Gospel for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time is taken from John. It is entitled the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish. What is so interesting about this reading is that it is the only miracle story that appears to all the four Gospels. But, this story finds a significant place in John as it is presented the fourth sign in the so-called Book of Signs (miracles). Certainly, John is a great writer in the sense that he knew where to lead his readers to recognize the focus of his theology, i.e. the revelation of God in the incarnation of the Son.
In this reflection, let me share with you something about Faith. Jesus in the Gospel asked Philip concerning the large crowd that followed them, “Where can we buy enough food/bread for them to eat?” Christ is the Lord. Why in the world would He ask? However, the Evangelist added, “He said this to test him for He Himself knew what he would do.” Christ tested his disciples using the very question of Moses to God in the desert (Num 11:13). The difference is that Moses inquired out of ignorance in total adherence to God while Christ asked in a rhetorical manner to know how the disciple will respond. But Jesus knew what to do.
By Andrew presenting the five barley loaves and two fish a lad has, the disciples were able to prove they do not lack faith by showing him the food they have. The raw materials for the event that followed have been provided: the loaves and fish. Then the miracle-event ensued.
But let us reflect on what Jesus did upon seeing the raw materials out of which he is to perform a miracle. He took the loaves and fish, gave thanks and distributed them to the people. These actions of Christ are not new to us. They prefigure the Last Supper scene and connote the new exodus which will be wrought through Christ. The feeding of the multitude anticipates the Eucharist and looks backward to the feeding of Israel with manna (bread from heaven) in the desert at the time of Exodus (Ex 16) and Elisha’s feeding a hundred men with small provisions (2Kgs 4:42-44). Nevertheless, the actions of Christ communicate and manifest a very important message. It is His unfailing faith to the Father. Never in His life on earth did Jesus doubt His Eternal Father. When He took the loaves and fish, He gave thanks and distributed them He knew that the Father of all (Eph 4:6) will never fail Him for whatever He asks of Him. Thus, the glory of the Son is revealed behind the event.
Brothers, this miracle story, above all, speaks about faith. Jesus tested His disciple’s faith. From which we saw that with faith miracle is possible. We also find the Son of God in total reliance to the divine providence of the Father. Indeed, this is what faith is about.
The mystery that overshadows creation reveals to human comprehension the grandeur of God’s mighty hand. The rich imageries of bread and fish in the Old and New Testaments were touched by the Lord. Simple as they are, Christ made use of them to show us what faith can do and how simple food of simple people can be extraordinary signs of God’s immeasurable love.
Out of God’s overflowing love for sinful humanity HE HAS REVEALED Himself. The zenith of the revelation happened with the incarnation of his only begotten Son. And on our part, as creatures, all we ought to do is to respond through the unconditional ascent of our faith. Hence, the katabatic and anabatic interplay comes into being.
Dear friends, faith is something we possess though unseen. Although we speak of fides et ratio, still faith will always be clothed with mystery. With Mary, let us learn from the most Faithful suffering Servant of all, Christ our Lord. Miracle happens when we give our everything and rely on the benevolence of our Maker with the unconditional ascent of our hearts.
Our holy father Augustine died reciting the penitential psalm while entrusting everything in God’s hand. Let us keep in mind that towards the twilight of our lives what remains in philosophy is reason and in theology, faith. This makes sense as we remember a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews which says, “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).
The challenge now is how to enrich our faith with action because “faith requires public testimony and commitment” (Porta Fidei, 10) in response to God’s love for us. He has given us His all when Jesus died through the most humiliating death we could ever imagine. And as could and should we not give our all?
Note: This Gospel sharing is shared with the permission of the author, Fray Aimark Asor, OSA. He delivered this sharing before dinner.
A simple theme of the gospel of today is about sharing. The best act of sharing depicted in the gospel is the child bringing the five loaves of bread and two fishes. His example tells us that instead of taking the food for himself and eat it alone and instead of running away, he gave it up.
Here are other themes that we might extract from our gospel in the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time of July 29, 2012.
1. The Eucharist - when Jesus prayed for the miracle
2. Sacrifice - the boy's action
3. Obedience - when the people reclined
4. prayer - When asking for something from God, pray to him. Jesus did it himself.
5. Good Shepherd - a continuation of the previous Sunday's Gospel, which is about Jesus care for this disciples.